Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sacrificing humans easier than goats

Why did the US ambassador to India suddenly resign? Is it because of the need felt by the Imperial Court to have a reset with this particular mansabdari? Since no public explanations are given, private speculations are helping to fill the vacuum.

Moving beyond business, if one was to look at other areas in the bilateral relations between India and the US, then the Devyani Khobragade issue was definitely one that became a major stumbling block for meaningful progress in their ties. And for this, the US government and the ministry of external affairs of India should both be blamed. If the US “mishandled” the Indian diplomat and treated her like a “common criminal,” then the jingoistic reaction in India contributed to its snowballing into a major controversy. While the American government was being blamed for the humiliation of the Indian diplomat, the fact that she had also violated a domestic law in the US was totally ignored and brushed off the Indian table.
If, in this drama, Powell is to be blamed then it is perhaps for the decision of one of the US diplomats in the consular section to give a visa to the Indian maid Sangeeta Richard’s husband and children to travel to the US even as a case against her was pending before the Indian court.  

The US diplomat involved in the consular section was since withdrawn and taken back to Washington. But some of the Indian decisions that include stripping US diplomats of special privileges and removing the barricades from in front of the embassy in Chanakyapuri, remain in force.
The third reason being cited for Powell’s removal from the post is because of her handling of Gujarat chief minister and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi. The US continued to be the last “holdout” among western diplomats to engage with Modi. Even though the European Union ambassadors broke their post-Godhra moratorium of engaging with Modi, the US embassy in Delhi only decided to do so early this year after all the others.
By all indication, Nancy Powell’s departure from the scene may allow the US to re-set its relations with India. But it may soon find out that making a scapegoat of Powell only solves half its problem relating to India. The other half may well prove to be much tougher to resolve in the coming days.

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